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The silence and the voice in Brazilian and French jury trials: an anthropological listening

Grant number: 18/08147-4
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): October 29, 2018
Effective date (End): March 03, 2019
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Anthropology - Theory of Anthropology
Principal Investigator:Ana Lúcia Pastore Schritzmeyer
Grantee:Ana Lúcia Pastore Schritzmeyer
Host Investigator: Armelle Christine Giglio-Jacquemot
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Université de Poitiers, France  


In dialogue with other works on Courts of the Jury, especially in Brazil and France, I propose, in an unprecedented way, to study them from a comparative-ethnographic perspective. Unlike the Brazilian system, where there is only one "type" of the Jury Court competent to judge intentional crimes against life, in France there are 4 Cours d'Assises: des Mineurs (for crimes committed by young people over 16 and under 18 years old at the time of the events); Spéciale (for crimes considered to be very serious, such as terrorism) and d'Appel (for cases where there was a first trial followed by an appeal). What I analyze and compare with the Brazilian Jury, whose Judgment Council is composed of 7 lay persons, is the "regular" Cour d'Assises, which is directed at violent crimes against life, including rape and qualified robbery, whose Council consists of 6 laity and 3 magistrates, all 9 with right to voice and vote during the deliberative debates. One of the most contrasting aspects among these courts is the rule of incommunicability imposed on jurors in Brazil in front of the collegial and interactive deliberation among the French jurors. In Brazil, at no time, the jurors can openly and officially discuss the case. Decide on the culpability of the defendant individually and secretly. In France, they are allowed to leave the forum and talk during breaks for lunch and at the end of each day's work. Before they deliver the sentence, in the secret room, they debate their opinions regarding guilt and the possible penalty to be applied. The defendants in Brazil are heard only during the interrogation conducted by the judge, while in France throughout the trial they may be called upon to react and position themselves in relation to what is being said to them by witnesses, experts, lawyers and prosecutors. The ethnographic material was 14 sessions followed in France between 2013 and 2016 (2 in Douai, 9 in Paris and 3 in Lyon), as well as more than 100 sessions analyzed during my doctoral field work in the city of São Paulo (1997 -2001) and several others registered since 2003 with undergraduate and graduate students, I propose to analyze comparatively how the actors involved in this type of judgment perceive and present themselves (or not) as subjects of rights and what meanings and uses they mean to make of their freedoms of thought and expression. I start from the assumption that such notions structure these spaces of power, because they refer to key values of social life, permanently based on everyday situations and, in this case, violent situations. One of the hypotheses is that both the silence imposed on the Brazilian jurors and the negotiated deliberation demanded by the French jurors do not in themselves constitute "good" or "bad" decision formats. There are Brazilian jurors who feel comfortable not to expose their decisions, while others feel constrained by this practice. Similarly, in France, there are jurors who feel intimidated by having to deliberate with toga judges. Others already understand that this practice guarantees a leading role in the face of the hegemonic technicity of the French criminal justice system. Far from pointing out "hits" and "failings" of the French Jury Tribunal against the Brazilian and vice versa, I intend to analyze equally complex dynamics that make sense, in each context, in the light of the interactions produced by the actors on the scene and contribute to intense debates current public, here and there, regarding reforms in the respective Courts of the Jury. Armelle Giglio-Jacquemot has already conducted several interviews with jurors in France, something that I, being there, intend to discuss with her, in depth, as well as to perform, including with judges, prosecutors, advocates and professors of law, exposing the model of the Brazilian Jury and instigating them to compare it with the French model. (AU)

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